Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Mind your language

Labour MPs may have had to admit defeat in their battle to block a coalition deal with Plaid Cymru, but they've served notice that they'll carry on the fight by proxy.

Some backbenchers fear the new coalition government's agenda gives too high a priority to the Welsh language.

Now seven MPs have tabled a Commons motion calling for bilingual announcements at railway stations no longer to be made in Welsh first -if most people in the area speak English as their first language.
Chris Bryant
Mr Paul Murphy
Mr Don Touhig
Alun Michael
Ian Lucas
Nick Ainger
* 7

Ann Clwyd
That this House notes that the announcements at all railway stations in Wales are made in Welsh first and then in English; wholly supports the policy of bilingual announcements; but believes that it would be far more sensible and far more convenient for passengers, whether regular commuters or local visitors, if announcements at each station were made first in the language used by the majority of the local population.

Effectively, that would mean English coming first at stations like Cardiff, Newport and Wrexham.

The issue was raised in The Times recently by Matthew Parris, although no-one would accuse him of having a broader agenda.

It's no coincidence that the motion appears shortly after the deal between Plaid and Labour in the Welsh Assembly.

The motion has also been tabled by Chris Bryant and signed by former Welsh Secretaries Paul Murphy and Alun Michael, and former Ministers Don Touhig and Nick Ainger.

Mr Bryant said the Welsh language had its place but if anyone thought his Rhondda constituents were going to be forced to live their life through the Welsh language they were mistaken.

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